Postmodernism Destroyed His Church

The woke-church is driven by the thoughts and assumptions of critical race theory.

While there are several reasons my wife and I had to (painfully) leave our church, the driving factor is something I can only describe as “Our church got woke.” And our church was NOT a liberal church. Our church’s statement of faith was borrowed from The Gospel Coalition’s website. We had deep theological teaching. We had a concentration on community. We had great worship. We had some management issues, but so what. Doesn’t everybody?

 

I received the following e-mail from a reader, in response to my “Race, Identity Politics, and Evangelicalism” post. He gives me permission to use it, so long as I keep his name out of it. There’s a lot to think about here. By publishing it, I’m not necessarily endorsing his conclusions. I just think there’s something here worth considering. Here we go… — RD


I can speak from first-hand experience on the effect of Race, Identity Politics, and Evangelicalism on the evangelical church. I left my evangelical church for another, and when reading the short quotes from the emailer you reference looks eerily familiar. I wonder if he is one of the several exiles from my former church.

There IS a significant theological difference between the woke and non-woke evangelical church. The woke-church is driven by the thoughts and assumptions of critical race theory. The traditional evangelical church is driven by the thoughts and assumptions of classic/traditional/stereotypical “American” understandings of the world (Locke, Adam Smith, Luther, Calvin, etc.). It is difficult to communicate how large of a gap this is. This long email proceeds in three parts:

1. Understanding the Postmodern Philosophy (of which Identity Politics is Part)
2. How I saw Postmodernism Break My Church
3. The way Identity Politics Goes to War With Evangelical Theology Under False Pretenses

Understanding the Postmodern Philosophy

As I have learned by reading books like Christopher Butler’s Postmodernism: A Very Short Introduction, by keeping track of the fake academia scandal, and by reading actual postmodern works (Ibram Kendi, stamped from the beginning), it is difficult to communicate how significant the conflict (note: it’s a “conflict” not a “debate”) between woke church and evangelical church is. If you’d like the shortest possible summary of the dangers of Critical Race Theory, then watch this video of Jordan Peterson breaking it down (He is explaining the maniacal coherence of the “incoherence” of Postmodernism, and Critical Race Theory is Postmodernism’s assumptions applied to race relations). Here are some mind-blowing quotes, but I thoroughly recommend watching the entire thing. [Quoting Peterson:]

And then what happened is the Postmodernists came on to the scene, and they were all Marxists. But they couldn’t be Marxists anymore because [of how bad economic Marxism demonstrated itself to be a failure in the 1960s-1970s]. And so they started to play a sleight of hand: Instead of pitting the proletariat — the working class — against the bourgeois, they started to pit the oppressed against the oppressor. And that opened the possibility of identifying any number of groups as “oppressed” and “oppressor” and to continue the same narrative under a different name. It was no longer specifically about economics. It was about POWER, and EVERYTHING to the Postmodernist is about power.

And that’s why they’re so dangerous. Because if you’re engaged in a discussion with someone who believes in nothing but power, all they are motivated to do is accrue all the power. Because what else is there? There’s no logic. There’s no investigation. There’s no negotiation. There’s no dialogue. There’s no discussion. There’s no meeting of minds and no consensus. [Personal note: And for the Christian, it is worth noting that along these postmodern lines, there is no “truth” or “doctrine” either.] There is power.

And so since the 1970s, under the guise of Postmodernism, we have seen the rapid expansion of identity politics in the humanities. It’s come to dominate all of the humanities, which are dead as far as I’m concerned [Personal Note: As is whatever church that adopts “woke Christianity,” from my experience.] and a large amount of the social sciences.

More Peterson:

I would also caution people against making the assumption that what the radical post-modernists SAY they’re after has anything to do with what they’re actually after. Because they’re not after “equity.” They’re not after “tolerance.” They’re not anybody’s friend. Not at all. They’re all about POWER. They’re after power. And they use all this compassion language, which — you just have to scratch the surface of that and you find how fast that vanishes. They use all this compassion language and “I’m on the side of the oppressed” and all that posturing; it does nothing but mask the underlying drive for power. And that’s in keeping with their own damned philosophy, because for the Postmodernist, there is nothing but power.

That last one sounds pretty bad, and an overwhelming majority of people wouldn’t say that anyone THEY know would be so terrible as to “say” they’re for equality but truthfully be after “power.” But let the following quote ground the discussion in reality. It’s an explanation about how ideas like Postmodernism percolate:

The people who are animated by the Postmodern ethos are not generally in-and-of-themselves thoroughly possessed Postmodern philosophers. First off, they don’t know enough about Postmodernism or its underlying Marxism to make that claim. Imagine that the philosophy has an impetus. It has a core tendency to move in a given direction, as a body of ideas, a coherent body of ideas. And then imagine that it’s represented in fragments among people who find its tenants palatable. So, most student radicals, for example, are not 100% committed post-modernists. They’re probably like 10% committed post-modernists. When they’re not being foolish with their mob. They’re out being normal people.

But you get a mob together that’s animated by that Postmodern ethos, then the collective spirit that animates the Mob has that power-seeking proclivity, and that antipathy to Western-seeking ideals that we’ve been discussing.

For a long time, Christians have laughed off post-modernism by viewing it as incoherent. I’ve seen little pat dismissals of Postmodernism in evangelical culture (Ravi Zacharias comes to mind) like “Oh, you don’t believe in objective truth? So aren’t you saying it’s objectively true that there is no objective truth? That’s a contradiction!” But that changes when you realize that Postmodernists don’t believe in truth, but they do believe in POWER. All the incoherent inconsistencies that they spout out are not to persuade. They are to shame and conquer. So Matthew Shepard was not actually killed by a violent anti-gay bigot? Who cares about correcting the record? The point is cultural power, not truth.

Here’s an analogy, that is not so far off. You see someone online saying stupid stuff and making wild accusations about you. You challenge the truth of what they are saying. They respond with more incoherent blabber. Seeking to persuade the masses, you challenge this person to a public debate for all to see. They agree. You know you’re going to beat them at this debate, because you know (and you’re right) that what they’re saying doesn’t make any sense. So you arrive at your public event with your suit and tie, and all of your notes and power-point slides. You look over at the other podium, and you see that they don’t have notes. Instead, they have a gun, a club, a rope, and three large friends. You “lose” the “debate” in that public sphere.

The reason they were happy with their “losing argument” is that you don’t need a winning argument when you have a club in your hand. As for those who watch? “I don’t want to get beat with a club” is a convincing argument for those who are cowards as well as those who have never been taught courage and those who are ignorant of true enemies. It’s not a real club (at least not yet). Instead, it’s shame. It’s charges of “racism.” It’s all sorts of feelings and accusations that are wielded like a club and which drive good people into the corner with their tail between their legs.

How I saw Postmodernism Break My Church

While there are several reasons my wife and I had to (painfully) leave our church, the driving factor is something I can only describe as “Our church got woke.” And our church was NOT a liberal church. Our church’s statement of faith was borrowed from The Gospel Coalition’s website. We had deep theological teaching. We had a concentration on community. We had great worship. We had some management issues, but so what. Doesn’t everybody?

But then things started to get weird. The first issue was a sermon on the Civil Rights movement. Now, I’m fine with the Civil Rights Movement, but I didn’t know how the Bible said anything about the Civil Rights Movement, so I was a little perturbed that we dedicated an entire sermon to it. During that sermon, the guest preacher (a black member who eventually became an elder) made a claim that made me pause. He was speaking about the “racist” origins of the Southern Baptist Convention (with which our church associated). He bemoaned the sinful origin of the organization and said “They even believed that because of slavery, God had brought more Africans to faith! That’s wrong! That’s sinful!

Woke Point 1.

I winced, because what he just called sinful, I believed. I still believe it. No, it’s not a sufficient justification for slavery, but I do believe (as an accident of history and a proof of God’s sovereignty), that the slave trade exposed Africans to Christianity when they wouldn’t have been exposed to Christianity otherwise. I believe it in the same way I have no problem believing that “all things work together for the good of those who love God” and “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” For that reason, I have no problem believing that the trans-Atlantic slave trade led many people to saving faith. Plus, isn’t it objectively true? Regardless of the facts, I was troubled that one’s mental conviction on a factual (not theological) point was being called “sinful.”

So I emailed my pastor. And I had one of the weirdest conversations ever. Apparently, because of the Ethiopian Eunuch, Africa was already “evangelized,” so it was historically false that the trans-Atlantic slave trade spread Christianity in Africa. (Whaaaaaat?) Pay no mind to 1400 years in-between those events, the Muslim conquest, or the persistent tribal religions of Africa. The Ethiopian Eunuch evangelized Africa, so it’s historically incorrect to believe that God used slavery for some good.

Woke Point 2.

Oh yeah, I also got told that Jesus was black (not white) in that conversation. When I replied, “Wait, no. He was Mediterranean Jewish, not black. What do you mean Jesus was black?”, my pastor responded that “Well, he is what we’d call someone ‘of color’ so it’s essentially the same.” In stunned silence, I didn’t push the point.

Woke Point 3.

Later, in a Facebook post on the church’s page, that same pastor called Augustine of Hippo “African,” and I (not realizing who posted the comment) kind of laughed it off and slyly remarked that while he was the bishop of a city in Africa, he was actually Roman. Since “African” usually refers to sub-Saharan people with black skin, it is either wrong or confusing to call him “African.” We could call him “Berber” instead, if we wanted to. Had I known I was correcting the pastor instead of a random congregant, I never would have posted that. But my pastor (I am told) was extremely upset by this, and responded by calling me wrong, and also saying this is not the place to debate. (I know the etiquette of Facebook is fluid, but I can say the response certainly felt harsh).

Woke Point 4.

Later in the year, as police shootings were in the news, and Trump was a thing, we started having “discussions on race” in our church. These discussions were organized around racial identities. In the opening example to lead off the thing, the pastor asked all the attendees to raise their hands to see if someone was “from the South” and then against if someone was “from the North.” About 1/3 were from the north and 2/3 were from the South. So he asked, “So, we should be loving our neighbor in the church. We all know that. With this in mind, who should be giving up power in the church in order to love their neighbor.”

Note the phrase “Power.”

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